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First drive: Jaguar XF. Image by Jaguar.

First drive: Jaguar XF
It might look familiar, but the all-new Jaguar XF has what it takes to beat the 520d at its own game.

   



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Jaguar XF

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Jaguar's new XF slips into a similar suit but there's lots of new tech beneath the surface, and a brilliant driving experience too.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Jaguar XF 2.0d 180hp R-Sport
Pricing: 36,850 as tested; starts at 32,300
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: four-door executive saloon
CO2 emissions: 114g/km (VED Band C, 30 per annum)
Combined economy: 65mpg
Top speed: 142mph
0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Power: 180hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 430Nm at 1,750- to 2,500rpm
Weight: 1,595kg
Boot space: 540 litres

What's this?

Well, it's obviously an XF isn't it? Wasn't Jaguar due to bring out a new XF around now? Oh, wait... Yup, it's very definitely a new XF and it's equally and clearly still an XF - Jaguar (and chief designer Ian Callum) haven't wandered very far from the original XF's styling, and why would they? That old XF was hugely popular and the new one has the task of both extending that success and also helping Jaguar build an instantly recognisable global identity. That, says Callum, was a more significant consideration than design for design's sake.

It is different though - visually longer, even though it's actually a few millimetres shorter overall, though with a 51mm longer wheelbase, a more generous glasshouse and a more upright, bluffer nose. It's still effortlessly handsome, even if some will just walk past it and assume it's the old car.

The cabin carries familiar overtones too, from the 'Riva Band' (named for the famous powerboat) that sweeps from the top of the doors right around behind the dashboard, to the broad centre console and generous wood and aluminium inlays. There is actually quite a lot of difference though. The seats are less bulky (but just as comfy - more so in fact) and there's a lot more space in the back seats. The ancient touch-screen system has been replaced by the new eight-inch InControl Touch setup (and will be supplemented in around six months' time by a new 10.2-inch InControl Touch Pro, which has every whizz and bang going). The main instruments are bigger and easier to read (and can optionally be replaced by a 12.3-inch TFT screen if you like). Quality is generally good as long as you don't peer too closely at the bottom of the doors or the join where the luxurious leather on top of the dash meets the cheaper stuff below.

There's a lot more technology on offer this time around too. Once InControl Touch Pro arrives, there will be all manner of apps that will allow you to seamlessly transfer data, mapping etc. from phone to car and back again, and to start and stop the car remotely via t'internet. On the chassis side, there is active braking that helps you turn into corners and slams on the anchors to stop you having a low-speed crash. There's a clever traction control system that can get you moving on a slippery surface without you having to touch the throttle and there's optional adaptive damping that reads the road 500 times every second and constantly adjusts the suspension stiffness to suit.

Then there's the body itself - made of 75 per cent aluminium now, consigning Jag's last steel chassis to the history bin. It's around 190kg lighter, depending on the model, and also stiffer and more aerodynamic.

How does it drive?

The 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine we're already familiar with, thanks to the smaller Jaguar XE. Like its arch-rival, the BMW 2.0-litre diesel, it's punchy and torquey (430Nm to go with its 180hp), but just a bit too vocal at times. It's better and more refined here in the XF than it is in the XE, but refinement could be a touch better at low speeds and when accelerating. No complaints about cruising refinement though - the loudest speed at a 75mph cruise is the air conditioning fan.

Performance is actually reasonably brisk. A 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds doesn't sound too fast, but the XF never feels like it's out of its depth in velocity terms. It's a well-balanced performer, giving you enough poke to make progress, but keeping an eye on emissions (which are pegged at 114g/km and go as low as 104g/km for the 163hp diesel) and economy (Jaguar's official 65mpg feels entirely do-able).

All drive is to the rear wheels through the familiar eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which slushes and slurs when you want it to, or which can whip through the ratios when you take over the paddles in Sport mode. It is worth noting that, although the XF sticks closely to the outgoing model's pricing, it now comes with a manual gearbox as standard, making the extra charged for the auto an effective price rise.

Our test car wasn't on the adaptive dampers, but instead on the standard passive ones, in slightly stiffer and lower Sport spec. To be honest, it would be hard to see why you'd bother spending the extra on the adaptive ones, so well set up is the XF. An extra valve in the damper opens at low speeds so that the urban ride is soft enough, but closes as the speed rises to keep the body flat and stable even when flicking through fast direction changes.

The steering is just brilliant as well - an electric assistance system that actually allows you to feel the grain of the road under the tyres, and which has really lovely weight, speed and accuracy. All XFs come with an electronic mode switch that allows you to choose between Eco, Normal and Dynamic modes. The steering actually feels better in Normal and the slightly less sensitive throttle makes for smoother progress too.

What's truly impressive though is the way the XF switches seamlessly between agile and entertaining companion through fast sweeps and tight hairpins, and then relaxes into laid-back motorway cruise mode - and it excels at both.

Verdict

You could accuse Jaguar of playing it too safe here - the original XF was such a refreshing change for the brand when launched back in 2007, that the new one seems almost a let-down, sticking so closely to that original template. But then, that's the point, isn't it? The original XF turned Jaguar's fortunes around as it left Ford's ownership and came under Tata's wing, so the new one's job is to capitalise on that success. Being familiar and consistent is all part of that, and making models look similar from generation to generation has worked well for rivals such as BMW and Audi...

Besides, as soon as you've taken it through a few corners, you'll forgive the XF almost anything. It's just a beautifully balanced and setup car, a thoroughbred drivers' machine that can also take on more mundane family and business-y tasks. Jaguar wants it to be the new benchmark in the executive car class, and I think it may just have succeeded.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 15 Aug 2015



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2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.



2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XF R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.
 






 

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